Green Card/Permanent Resident

June, 2020

A permanent resident is an immigrant who has been granted authorization to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. A Permanent Resident Card, commonly called a green card, is provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as proof of the individual’s status.

The major benefit of having a green card is the ability for a non-citizen to be employed in the U.S. Other benefits of having a green card include:

  • Eligible to receive federal benefits (such as Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), food stamps (SNAP), SSI or TANF, Medicare or Section 8 subsidized housing) after they have been in the U.S. with permanent resident status for at least 5 years;
  • Ability to sponsor relatives to apply for their own green cards;
  • Eligible for in-state tuition in many states, including Florida, at state colleges, universities and technical schools;
  • For shorter trips (6 months of less), international travel from the U.S. is much easier for non-citizens holding a green card; and
  • After five years, a Legal Permanent Resident may apply for U.S. citizenship.

    Facts You Should Know

    Federal law establishes eligibility criteria for permanent residency. Eligibility categories include:

  • Family: In broad terms, this includes immediate family members of a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, fiancée of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or the child of such fiancée, widow(er) of a U.S. citizen;
  • Employment: Includes individuals who have special skills, educational degrees or abilities, certain physicians who will work in an underserved area, or immigrant investors who will provide jobs;
  • Special Immigrant: In general, this includes religious workers, abused children, translators for the U.S., NATO retirees, international broadcasters;
  • Refugee or Asylee;
  • Human trafficking, crime victims, and people subjected to abuse;
  • Other Categories: Includes those who receive a visa under the U.S. Department of State’s diversity visa lottery, certain natives or citizens of Cuba, Haiti or Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos);
  • Registry: May be available to those who have resided continuously in the U.S. prior to Jan. 1, 1972.
  • On April 22, 2020 the President issued an Executive Order to temporarily suspend the approval of green cards. However there are a number exceptions.

    The eligibility criteria under each of these categories is complex and subject to change.

Be Informed. Vote Informed.

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